Hackney Council accused of “ethnically cleansing” the borough in promo pic

The photo that was deleted by the council

The photo that was deleted by the council - Credit: Archant

Hackney Council has been accused of “ethnically cleansing” the borough in a promotional image which it subsequently removed from its website.

The image which was used as a replacement

The image which was used as a replacement - Credit: Archant

The council commissioned several architects and an artist to create an image of the Narroway Way in Hackney Central to illustrate how the recently pedestrianised street may look in the future.

But just two hours after members of the Black and Ethnic Minority Arts Network (BEMA) contacted the council last Monday, slamming them for “whitewashing” the busy thoroughfare, the image was removed.

BEMA lead officer Ngoma Bishop said: “The image revealed Hackney’s transformation into a borough inhabited almost entirely by young white people.

“The diversity of the borough has almost completely disappeared and the different communities, cultures and people of all ages and abilities have been replaced with white children and cyclists.”

Mr Bishop said the impression the image gave was of “ethnic cleansing”: “I’m not saying it was done intentionally and the council has formed a policy which says, “Let’s ethnically cleanse the areas.”

“But you have to judge people on their actions and if you show an image of an area that has been ethnically cleansed then people can conclude that’s what your intention is.”

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His initial thoughts on seeing the image was to ask why no one had raised the point it was not an appropriate image for an area like Hackney.

He said: “We know the rhetoric, it’s probably one of the most culturally diverse areas in the country, all politicians in Hackney hype up any sort of justification as to why the borough is such a wonderful place to live and say it’s culturally diverse, but the picture doesn’t represent that in any way shape or form.

“I know how the local authority works and they are very careful about what represents the council, it would have had to go through two or three vetting teams, I wonder how it got so far that it made the website.”

“The point is they were only aware of it once we raised the point.

“The fact they took it down as soon as we mentioned it is indicative, although it’s welcome.”

A Hackney Council spokesman said: “We were provided with images by the architects to illustrate the changes to the Narrow Way’s public realm. “We have requested more images which better represent the Hackney community.”